Montreal Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky has been suspended for two games for boarding.
Slafkovsky delivered an illegal hit on Detroit Red Wings forward Matt Luff during Tuesday’s game in Detroit. The hit came with 5:34 remaining in the third period, with the score tied 2-2.
Slafkovsky was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding by referees Graham Skilliter and Michael Markovic. He’d taken just two minor penalties in nine games coming into action on Tuesday; he now has 19 PIMs on the season, along with three goals and no assists.
A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.
There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.
Referees may issue a minor or major penalty, depending on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards; a major penalty call where there is also an injury to the head of face requires a mandatory game misconduct. If the referee judges that the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent, he can hand out a match penalty.
“As far as the hit, the right call was made. It’s unfortunate,” said Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde, per TSN. “It’s the exact hit you want to try to avoid, because of exactly what happened. A player got seriously injured. It is what it is. The right call was made.”
Here’s the breakdown of the ruling from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Tuesday night in Detroit, Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Red Wings forward Matt Luff, causing an injury.
As the video shows, Luff skates the park through the neutral zone and attempts to chip it by an opponent. The puck is swatted out of the air and bounces along the ice in Luff’s vicinity as he attempts to control it. Slafkovsky, having approached from behind love and having seen his numbers for some time, finishes a check driving Luff dangerously into the wall. This is boarding
It is important to note that while Luff does turn the face the wall, he does not do so just prior to or simultaneous with contact in a way that turns a legal check into an illegal one. From the time he crosses the blue line, Slafkovsky is looking at Luff’s numbers. The onus is on Slafkovsky to deliver this check in a legal fashion, minimize the force of the contact, or avoid the hit entirely. Instead, he hits Luff from behind, driving him dangerously into the boards and causing an injury.
Luff’s injury required surgery on his wrist; he is expected to miss 10-12 weeks.
“It was a bad hit and I think Slafkovsky knew it right away, but you can’t hit someone like that,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “It’s just scary to see a teammate, anyone, go into the boards like that. We’re really hoping he’s all right.”
The Habs winger forfeits $10,270.28 in salary as a result of the suspension.